Cleft palate (CP) is one of the most common craniofacial birth defects, impacting about 1 in 800 births in the USA. Tgf-β3 plays a critical role in regulating murine palate development, and Tgf-β3 null mutants develop cleft palate with 100% penetrance. In this study, we compared global palatal transcriptomes of wild type (WT) and Tgf-β3 −/− homozygous (HM) mouse embryos at the crucial palatogenesis stages of E14.5, and E16.5, using RNA-seq data. We found 1,809 and 2,127 differentially expressed genes at E16.5 vs. E14.5 in the WT and HM groups, respectively (adjusted p < 0.05; |fold change|> 2.0). We focused on the genes that were uniquely up/downregulated in WT or HM at E16.5 vs. E14.5 to identify genes associated with CP. Systems biology analysis relating to cell behaviors and function of WT and HM specific genes identified functional non-Smad pathways and preference of apoptosis to epithelial-mesenchymal transition. We identified 24 HM specific and 11 WT specific genes that are CP-related and/or involved in Tgf-β3 signaling. We validated the expression of 29 of the 35 genes using qRT-PCR and the trend of mRNA expression is similar to that of RNA-seq data. Our results enrich our understanding of genes associated with CP that are directly or indirectly regulated via TGF-β.
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